New group aims to help veterans learn to farm



By Kathleen Pierce

When war veterans return home, their future often is grim. Suffering from injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder, they find it hard to acclimate to society.

“They give you medication, put you on another pill to keep you from killing yourself and consider that a success,” said Jerry Ireland, who spent 10 years in the Army and served in Afghanistan.

“We as veterans are trying to change that. It’s not good enough for vets to come home and not work,” Ireland said.

Thanks to the newly chartered Farmer Veteran Coalition of Maine, of which Ireland is executive director, Mainers who served in the military can now find a fertile future in agriculture.

“This gives us an opportunity to be a success and become part of the food and agricultural movement in Maine,” said Ireland, who runs a diversified farm called Ireland Hill Farms in Swanville. “It’s a hand up, not a hand out.”

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, and Thursday, Jan. 14, Ireland and fellow veterans in the chapter will hold demonstrations and host a panel at the Agricultural Trade Show to spread the word. A new partnership with Get Real, Get Maine and Homegrown By Heroes also will be announced.

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